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Parent groups ask feds for more parent involvement

A national group of parent advocacy organizations is petitioning U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan to use federal education legislation to increase parent involvement in schools.

The group is asking Duncan to make sure the new version of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the law that was until recently known as No Child Left Behind, requires parents to be involved in decisions about how schools are run. At the fore is New York City’s Class Size Matters, the advocacy nonprofit run by parent activist Leonie Haimson.

“So far, the parent voice has been missing from the debate and is entirely absent from the top-down and often draconian proposals being put forward by your administration,” the letter states.

The letter comes just as Duncan proposed to double federal investments in family engagement programs. Duncan’s focus has been on how parents can help boost their children’s achievement, not on how they can help make decisions about how their schools are run. The petition is asking the feds to widen their view.

“I think it’s good to increase that money, but there also needs to be other money set aside to increase parent involvement not just in school activities, but in decision-making at the school level and at the district level,” Haimson said. “And we don’t see that happening.”

Here is the full petition, which was released with the signatures of 18 parent activists around the country:

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